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Kentuckians who led the way 

This special edition celebrating 75 years of Kentucky Living perfectly aligns with a look back at some of the state’s most influential folks. Paul W. Bass has combined their stories in Kentucky Innovators: Famous (and Infamous) Kentuckians Who Led the Way in Their Field. 

The collection covers categories that include inventors, educators, musicians, soldiers and “even a few villains,” highlighting the go-getters who have made significant contributions to the state’s history. 

Talented artists and entertainers abound in the book. Take, for example, the late Loretta Lynn, a trailblazing woman in country music. Her humble beginnings in Butcher Hollow didn’t limit her success, noted by Kennedy Center Honors, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in addition to her inclusion in the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

In the Education and Literature category, readers learn about John James Audubon, for whom over 28 museums and parks, as well as the National Audubon Society and John James Audubon State Park in Henderson were named in recognition of his research on and drawings of birds. Duncan Hines, a Bowling Green native, is also featured. Already one of the nation’s top food critics early in his career, Hines’ endorsements of products and businesses would eventually turn into one of the most respected names in brand advertising today. 

The Business, Science, and Technology section features Stephen Bishop, the explorer credited for discovering and mapping major portions of Mammoth Cave. 

And, no collection of Kentucky innovators would be complete without Muhammad Ali. The three-time boxing heavyweight champion of the world received numerous awards and honors and was the first boxer to appear on a Wheaties box, fighting his way not only through matches in the ring but against the ugliness of segregation and racism. 

Bass hopes that shining a spotlight on these successes will encourage state leaders to “provide more business and economic incentives in helping the innovators to remain in Kentucky for research and production purposes.” 

Proceeds from the sale of the book will also help other communities and organizations preserve their history through Our American Heritage Project, a nonprofit organization. 

Kentucky Innovators: Famous (and Infamous) Kentuckians Who Led the Way in Their Field, Acclaim Press, $29.95, can be found online at or at major booksellers. 

Paul W. Bass notes that in most cases, the author must convince the publisher that a book proposal is a good one. However, in this case, after Bass completed Missouri Innovators, Acclaim Publisher Doug Sikes approached him about writing a similar Kentucky version. 

Bass began writing in 2007 after careers in pastoring, debate team coaching and directing university student activities. He lives with his wife, Jan, in Willard, Missouri. Contact him at 

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